Fox 13 [Memphis, TN]
June 7, 2022
By Daniel Wilkerson
The former pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue in East Memphis faces allegations he molested several boys in the nineties.
“Well, in 2019, some guys came forward making some allegations against a former pastor. And it was really concerning to us. And so we communicated with the church about these allegations, and we worked with those guys, extended counseling to them,” said Pastor Matt Miller, the current pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church.
A Shelby County judge initially ruled that the statute of limitations applied and struck down the lawsuit. A higher court has now ruled the statute of limitations does not apply since, according to court documents, the church worked to hide the crimes.
“I wasn’t here when those allegations were made before,” said Miller. “I only know what happened three years ago when we started to care for those guys, and we really sought to be transparent in this whole situation as much as possible because it’s our hope to help anyone who’s been affected by this issue.”
The lawsuit states Pastor James B. “Jim” Stanford raped the boys during sleepovers inside his church-owned home. Those boys are now in their thirties.
“We are pleased that the court of appeals has allowed these victims to have the opportunity to prove their case,” said Gary Smith of the Gary K. Smith Law Firm, who represents the victims. “It is admitted that they were sexually abused. We will have evidence that the church had the opportunity to prevent the abuse, but they did not do so and then concealed from the victims what the church knew. That information only became known to these young men shortly before this suit was filed.”